IFE&C news and rumour roundup (April 2)

Amended to firm up rumour section!


I was asked by a fair reader if Air Canada intends to charge for Aircell’s Gogo in-flight Internet service just like its American counterparts. Aircell director, airline solutions Dave Bijur confirms that indeed it will.

Air Canada.jpg

“Like all of our existing partnerships, Air Canada will offer its guests a pay-for-service plan that is aligned with our pricing strategy in the United States,” says Bijur. “Launching our first international airline is pretty exciting, and we’ve conducted some research that indicates that passenger interest for in-flight broadband is just as promising in Canada, as it is in the United States.”

Aircell did, of course, also get a major boost this week when American Airlines announced plans to expand Gogo to 300 domestic aircraft. And it has also made strides on the business aviation front as the following link suggests.

Hawaiian 717.jpg

Aircell News Release – High Speed Internet – April 1 2009 – Final.pdf

Hawaiian Airlines is in the market for next generation portable IFE equipment. In the next couple of months the airline is likely to select a vendor (they use DigEcor right now). The competition is down to two suppliers. Battery lasting power is a big consideration, says VP in-flight services Louis Saint-Cyr.

Rivals AeroMobile and OnAir pushed out interesting press releases this week. AeroMobile says passengers on Malaysia Airlines are proving some of the world’s most enthusiastic users of in-flight mobiles. On some flights, passenger adoption has exceeded 40%!!!

OnAir announced its 10,000th flight with the mobile OnAir in-flight connectivity service in commercial operation, “making OnAir the clear leader in onboard connectivity both in terms of number of flights and airline customers”, according to the firm.

It adds: “The milestone underlines the speed with which OnAir services are becoming commonplace onboard aircraft: the number of flights with the service is set to exceed 100,000 before the end of the year.”

RUMOUR (since firmed up)

Now lets turn to Continental Airlines. The Wandering Aramean blog is reporting that Continental will launch LiveTV’s latest live television offering, LTV3, tomorrow on Continental 1493, a flight from Orlando to Newark. But will passengers be able to view 80 channels from the get-go? According to Wandering Aramean – no!

Key paragraph:

Right now it seems that there is only a limited number of channels that will be available on the system – 35 instead of the planned 80.  I really hope that getting the other 45 online can be done without taking the plane out of service again.

I’ve been in contact with LiveTV and it confirms the report. ”On channels, [LTV3] will be over 80 very shortly and no down time needed to add, upgrade or change channel line-up.”

Panasonic, meanwhile, believes it has found a way around the global channel challenge in launching the Panasonic Airline Television Network. A key quote from Panasonic’s news this week:

“Current in-flight solutions utilize existing direct-to-home feeds for their programming. The beams or footprint for these feeds are optimized to serve consumers on land, not aircraft in-flight. Furthermore, the existing distribution agreements that govern the broadcast of content often are limited to specific geopolitical boundaries. In contrast, the Panasonic Airborne Television Network is not reliant on existing distribution networks and encryption formats. With these restrictions removed, Panasonic can offer the first seamless, synchronized, global TV network.” 

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